Dual Dialogue


I know you’ve said that Scrivener is not and will never be a layout editor, and I completely understand and agree that it shouldn’t be. As such, I gather that is why there are no options for columns and, likewise, I assume, Dual Dialogue in Scriptwriting.

That being said, is it possible to, especially since the FCF file format has been made open to you by the people of Final Draft, achieve Dual Dialogue formatting without? It would be a great boon to me as a screenwriter, and be a large step towards completely (and this may just be my goal) replacing Final Draft. It’s the only feature I miss.


P.S. I would like to say that Scrivener is the first piece of Computer Software I’ve purchased with my own money since… Possibly ever. I fell that deeply in love with it.

P.P.S. I’m looking forward to 1.5!


I’m afraid the FCF format actually doesn’t support dual dialogue either - it’s a very basic converter format based on earlier versions of Final Draft. And because the OS X text system doesn’t support columns, Scrivener can’t either… However, I’ll certainly continue to look into ways around this for export (if I can find any) in the future, as I am aware that it is a need for scriptwriters.


Thanks for the response. I noticed in the stage play character template that there was something similar to a column going on between character and description, is that different?


Yes, that’s just tabs and indents separating the first word from those that follow. You wouldn’t be able to have dual dialogue that way without having each line of dialogue tabbed separately! The only way you could achieve it in the current system would be to use a table. (I’m assuming the dialogue appears adjacent rather than just on different sides of pages but still one beneath the other.)

All the best,

I’m amazed that Apple’s text engine is still so basic after so long.

Shame really. And I imagine that somewhere, they have got something that supports columns. Otherwise they wouldn’t have been able to write Pages.

I expect that is part of the reason.

They want people to buy Pages, and as a result, they don’t want to make it easy for developers to create rival products out of Apple’s own tools. They provide enough to make it seem like a selling point of the operating system, but when you get to the level Keith does, there is a lot they have left out.

I guess the other factor is motivation. Time Machine and Spaces and a reflective dock sell MacBooks… I very much doubt native support for text columns would shift a single unit.

Compare it to what Microsoft provides out of the box to developers: a basic rich text editor with scrollbars, if you are lucky.

There is nothing stopping a developer adding columns, and there is documentation in the Apple text system docs about doing so, but give that Scrivener isn’t a page layout program, there’s no way I’m going down that route. But basically to achieve columns you would do pretty much the same thing you do to create pages in the text system - each column would be in a separate container (the sample app, MyColumn, which I wrote and is available on the Free Stuff page, lays out the text in columns rather than pages, for instance). When you have columns and pages, things get more complicated, of course, as you have to work out column containers within page rectangles and so forth… And as soon as you go down this route you better be prepared to look into wrapping text around images (by creating different sized containers of text calculated around a given image) and lots of other pretty layout things… And bingo, you have a fully-fledged page layout program! So, in other words, this sort of thing is possible with Apple’s text system, but it’s not the sort of thing Scrivener was intended for.

However, the original poster wasn’t talking about columns - he was talking about dual dialogue, which is even more complicated, as only some of the text would be in columns; some wouldn’t. So scene headings and so on wouldn’t be in columns, but snippets of dialogue would be. A table with no borders, two columns and one row could be used to achieve this, but it would be a kludge. I would rather see this sort of thing as something that would get laid out differently in Scrivener, e.g:

Bob’s dialogue
John’s dialogue
Bob’s dialogue
John’s dialogue

And then gets exported to a scriptwriting program properly, i.e. as:

Bob’s dialogue John’s dialogue
Bob’s dialogue John’s dialogue

Unfortunately, though, at present there are no formats available to me that will export in that manner - FCF doesn’t support dual dialogue, for instance. So, it’s one to come back to in the future, depending on what becomes available in the future in terms of text formatting or different export types.

Thanks and all the best,


Just wondering if there was any update on getting ‘dual dialogue’ in Scrivener since the last post? Or is it a feature that is unlikely ever to be added?

(Love the software by the way and evangelise about it to everyone. Just finished my first screenplay and have no idea of how I would have even attempted it without using Scrivener. Also thanks for including BBC Drama and Radio formatting - they’ve also saved me countless hours of futzing around in Word with those Scriptsmart macros.)




There’s no dual dialogue in Scrivener itself, because it doesn’t have the layout tools, but what you can do is select sections of regular dialogue that you want to be dual dialogue and then use Format > Formatting > Preserve Formatting, which will enclose the dialogue in a light blue box. Dialogue marked up this way will become dual dialogue when exported to Final Draft FDX format.

All the best,

Hi Keith,

Apologies for asking the same question twice, but this looks to be the more appropriate thread for my question which I had posted earlier…

Are you any closer to allowing Dual Dialogue to be exported to PDF or any other formats not dependent on then being opened in a rival scriptwriting software such as Final Draft? I think the use of Final Draft is less common among playwrights such as myself, and, we mostly are required to submit scripts in PDF format, so, I would like to avoid dealing with more than one software if at all possible. I did use a table to accomplish dual dialogue in Scrivener with my last play, but it was time consuming and a little clunky.

Once again, thanks for a great product!



Don’t know if this is of any assistance.

writersterritory.com/2016/04 … scrivener/

I find it very odd that Scrivener isn’t bringing additional formatting tools into the program (even by 2018) and that the only way to achieve a fully professional layout is to still have to buy Final Draft.

I LOVE Scrivener for its integrated document system. When I write in FD I use the beat board, but I also have endless Word Docs to keep all my notes and references, research, info on characters etc. on. As Scrivener allows all of that within the one project document, I find this a massive bonus. BUT it is a shame to still have to export (and adjust the layout etc., which is never totally exported correctly… some spacings and the like…) for things like DUAL DIALOGUE, (MORE)'s & (CONT’D)'s etc.

I would’ve thought the idea is to work within one writing software… And for many, (including me when my Mac becomes too old to support any newer upgrades) buying both is not an option…

As a one-man programming team, it simply isn’t possible to have Scrivener do all of the many things it was built for - research, outlining, working out structure - and do all of the things that are done by tools dedicated to specific layout and formatting and which are built by dedicated teams.


Long story short- I would like to see dual dialogue in script writing available for compile to print and pdf. I weeded myself away from FDP b/c of the robust flexibility Scrivener offers but I do rely on dual dialogue in my writing. I don’t want to compile for FDP, and in that process lose my creative and unique style that I set up in scrivener; FDP does not allow for much in the way of creative formatting in output which is fine; FDP is ‘industry’ standard, yet, from where as I see it, Scrivener is anything you want it to be.

Script writers need dual dialogue as a tool.

Can you please incorporate dual dialogue for print and pdf?

Thank you

Keith has made it clear that incorporating dual dialog is beyond resources and scope but then he sometimes surprises by finding neat additional features he can slip in even after saying he can’t - surprise and delight?

I notice a number of people talking about Final Draft, though when I last looked a few years back even that wasn’t the nicest workflow and it is much more expensive than many can contemplate.

For those who want dual dialog suggest you check out Fade In. At last look it handled dual dialog far easier than FD and is significantly less expensive and updated more frequently. As a plus it imports and exports all the required formats.

Because I like a challenge, for the next update I have added a new option to Compile (in the “Text Layout” area): “Convert Preserve Formatting blocks to dual dialogue tables”.

What this does:

  1. Looks for any text with “Preserve Formatting” applied.
  2. Goes through any such text looking for “Character” elements, and splits it up accordingly.
  3. Creates a borderless table, padded to match the text, with two columns.
  4. Inserts the dialogue into the cells of the table.

So, in Scrivener:

And in the PDF or print-out (this is only available for PDF and print):

Note, however, that because this uses tables, it’s not going to look very pretty if a single piece of the dialogue is quite long. This is because table rows have to appear on a single page, so the whole row may go over to the next page, leaving a gap at the end of the previous page. For dual dialogue of a couple of lines at a time it should work well enough, though.

And, of course, to reiterate: Scrivener is still not a full-featured scriptwriting app, and if you want other features, such as “MORE” and “CONT’D” at the end of pages and the top of the next, you will need dedicated scriptwriting software for that…

All the best,

Surprise and delight - Keith strikes again! :smiley:

Incredible! Thank you Keith!

Imagine my surprise: I booted up the forums to find an answer to a totally unrelated question—and found a thread I started almost a decade ago getting a resolution! This is perfect for my needs.

Great to see you are still a user! This is one of those things where a solution presented itself (actually a user suggested using tables) after many years of percolation - a bit like the “MORE” and “CONT’D” solution I’m currently working on…

All the best,

I’m sorry, I can’t find this option anywhere,

I’m using Scrivener version 3.03, I go to compile, and I cannot see an option for either “Text Layout” or “Convert Preserve Formatting blocks to dual dialogue tables”. It’s set to Compile for PDF, the project format is UK Stage Play.

Could someone point me in the right direction?